Savory Braided Flower Bread

Adapted from At Down Under and Passionate About Baking
~from Savoring Time in the Kitchen

Dough:

2-1/2 cups (325g) all purpose flour
1/4 cup-packed (25g) grated Parmesan cheese

2 1/2 tsp instant yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1-3/4 cup (200g) milk, lukewarm
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon (15ml) plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
3 Tablespoons (40 ml) extra virgin olive oil

Filling:
(The filling is very versatile so use any cheese and seasonings/herbs of your choice, including chopped, cured meat such as pancetta or bacon)

3 Tablespoons of plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
8 ounces of shredded cheese or your choice (I used Jarlsberg and Parmesan)
3 small green onions, chopped
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons spicy horseradish mustard or Dijon
1 teaspoon Penzey's Pizza seasoning (or a combination of dried oregano, basil and marjoram)
Salt and Freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 beaten egg yolk plus 1 tablespoon water, for wash
2 tablespoons seeds for decor in center of bread

Place the flour, Parmesan cheese, yeast and salt in the bowl of food processor and pulse on high speed to mix. Add the milk, cloves, garlic and yogurt and pulse to blend. Remove dough from food processor and knead on a floured surface to a smooth dough - about 5 minutes.

Cover with a piece of plastic wrap or dish towel and let rest for 15-20 minutes, then knead in the olive oil. Place the dough in a well oiled bowl, seal with plastic wrap and allow to double in rise in a warm place.

Assembly:

Once the dough has doubled, preheat the oven to 390F (200C) and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a bowl, mix together the filling ingredients.

Divide the dough into two equal pieces. On the lightly floured surface, roll one half into an 12″ circle. Transfer the circle to the baking sheet and roll out the other piece of dough to the same size. Spread the filling ingredients on the baking sheet dough and then cover with the second circle of dough and press down gently, trying as best you can to fit them together evenly.

Place a small glass in the center and press down gently (I used the cover to a small round butter dish). Using a sharp knife, cut the dough around the glass evenly into 4 sections, then cut each section into another 4 sections. You should have 16 sections.

Gently lift each spoke and twist it 3 times. Brush over with milk gently and sprinkle melon seeds over the center. {You can always brush with a beaten egg to get a beautiful glow. I wanted to keep the bread vegetarian}.

Remove the glass in the center and brush the top of the dough with the egg wash. Arrange sunflower seeds in the center where the glass was.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until light golden brown.

Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack. Serve warm or room temperature.
 
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